Through the curious life of Dick Kallman—a real-life celebrity striver, poisonously charming actor, and eventual murder victim—the unforgiving worlds of postwar showbiz and down-low gay sexuality are thrown into stark relief in this “page-turning blast” (James Ellroy, author of Widespread Panic)

Dick Kallman was an up-and-coming actor in the fifties and sixties—until he wasn’t. A costar on Broadway, a member of Lucille Ball’s historic Desilu workshop, and finally a primetime TV actor, Dick had hustled to get his big break. But just as soon as his star began to rise, his roles began to dry up and he faded from the spotlight, his name out of tabloids and newspapers until his sensational murder in 1980.

Through the eyes of his occasional pianist and longtime acquaintance Matt Liannetto, a tenderhearted but wry observer often on the fringes of Broadway’s big moments, Kallman’s life and death come into appallingly sharp focus. The actor’s yearslong, unrequited love for a fellow performer brings out a competitive, vindictive edge in him. Whenever a new door opens, Kallman rushes unwittingly to close it.  Even as he walks over other people, he can never get out of his own way.

As Matt pores over the life of this handsome could-have-been, Up With the Sun re-creates the brassy, sometimes brutal world that shaped Kallman, capturing his collisions with not only Lucille Ball, but an array of stars from Sophie Tucker to Judy Garland and Johnny Carson. Part crime story, part showbiz history, and part love story, this is a crackling novel about personal demons and dangerously suppressed passions that spans thirty years of gay life—the whole tumultuous era from the Kinsey Report through Stonewall and, finally, AIDS.
A Buzzfeed Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Read of the Year Crimereads Most Anticipated Crime Fiction of the Year

"Thomas Mallon has been America’s premier historical novelist for a decade. Up With the Sun cinches the accolade. It’s New York City in the aching 80’s. The murder of show-biz bottom feeder/monster Dick Kallman and his male lover ramifies throughout the turmoil of the decade—in a stunning hybrid of Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities and frontline reports from a beleaguered gay demimonde. This book packs period pizzazz and heartbreaking intimacy. And, as always with Mallon—it’s a page-turning blast.” —James Ellroy, author of Widespread Panic

“In this funny, vicious tale of ambition and moral corrosion, Thomas Mallon turns his rapier intelligence and seismographic sense of the workings of power to the worlds of Hollywood and Broadway. Among imperishable legends and declining stars, he chronicles desperate competition and half-open secrets, the longing for the next new thing and the lure of the past. Up With the Sun is a novel as stark as a Greek drama and as delicious as gossip.” Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You

“Part crime investigation and part showbiz cautionary tale, this novel takes place over three history-packed decades of gay life. Engagingly written and based on real-life personalities, this is historical fiction at its best.” Buzzfeed, “Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Reads of 2023”

“Dick Kallman was a real-life actor whose career was poisoned by homophobia against him and his own bad behavior—around in the 50s and 60s as an up-and-comer, only to vanish … and reappear in the news as a murder victim in 1980. . . . I can’t wait to be emotionally devastated by this one.” Crimereads, “Most Anticipated Crime Fiction of 2023”

"Mallon’s sparkling latest ... draws inspiration from real-life actor Dick Kallman’s career on Broadway and television and his 1980 murder. . . . Peppering the juicy drama of Dick’s ambition and unrequited love with pop cultural references, as well as cameos from Dyan Cannon and Kaye Ballard, Mallon creates a fascinating, page-turning tale. Readers will be swept off their feet." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Superb. . . . Fluidly written with well-realized characters, the novel is great gossipy fun to read. Film and theater buffs will be delighted." Booklist

“The author of a smart, tart series of political novels—most recently Landfall (2019)—casts an equally well-informed, unromantic eye on the entertainment industry and its closeted gay denizens. . . . Mallon acidly limns the ridiculous games gay actors were forced to play—dates with 'beards,' fake engagements—in those pre-Stonewall days.” Kirkus Reviews

“Part mystery and part homage to showbiz also-rans, this sensational (in both senses) novel imagines the aftermath of real-life actor Dick Kallman's 1980 murder and the three decades that precede it. Novelist Thomas Mallon has mastered the art of fictionalizing the lives of historical figures. . . . Dick Kallman … may not have been a prominent historical figure, but in Up with the Sun, Mallon leans on the not-quite star's biography to tell a story every bit as revealing about American ambition as the author's previous efforts centered on political giants. . . . The novel … unspool[s] like a mystery. . . . In Old Hollywood parlance, Up with the Sun has a cast of thousands. There are delectable walk-ons as well as fully dramatized scenes featuring both famous faces (Natalie Wood, Robert Osborne) and stars of lower wattage. . . . Dick’s unlikability is on hilariously preening display. . . .The wonder of Mallon's characterization is that, for all of Dick's weaselly ways, he remains sympathetic—except when he crosses Lucille Ball. Then he's pushing it.” Shelf Awareness

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